You become a ghost.
At first things are fine. You stay in touch with friends. You speak frequently on the phone. You laugh at things that just happened to you last week. The gossip is hot and fresh, because you know all the players. But then slowly they pull away from you and before you know it, the only thing you have to laugh about are things in the past. There are no more new memories with your friends. There are no more Sunday afternoon debriefs about the bar last night. There's no more new discoveries in the city of a tucked-away Persian restaurant with a cute waiter. It's no more impromptu brunches at a friend's house. No more flirtatious summer evenings sitting outside in the park. No more gatherings where you sit around and throw shade and argue over who is the Samantha of the group--I was always Carrie, which I didn't mind because I'm a writer with a shoe fetish. Or repeat lines from the Golden Girls over Ketel One-cranberries. No more meeting up at the gym where that one friend tries to tell you how to do squats but you remind them they are not a personal trainer. New memories are being made but you're just not included in them.
Now you listen as they tell stories of those adventures and soon the names change and you find yourself a bit lost. You say "Now who is that? Do I know him?" and there is a pause and they say "No, you don't know him? He came after you left."
You start to feel locked in place. Caught in time; because they have moved on and you haven't. Their kids graduate high school and you're not there to congratulate. They get promoted on their jobs and you're not there to celebrate. They meet "the one", fall in love, fall out of love, break-up and you're not there to commiserate. You become further out of step and out of time. Then you start wondering to yourself will you ever be able to catch up. They are so far ahead of you now and it's as if you are not even in the same space-time with them. You sit from day-to-day watching your parent, a sentinel.
I can only speak to my mother about the past. She has relatively no memory of the present. So to the life of a caretaker becomes rooted in the past. Just yesterday I was speaking to her about Omar Khayyám's famous poem.
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
Then she started asking for her dead relatives and I wondered what my friends were doing.